Sunday, December 31

Holiday week - the short version

We had a lovely Christmas! It was fairly simple and characteristically unique, and much fun was had by all.

The next day, I began wondering what the house looks like without Christmas decorations. I continued to wonder throughout a chaotic week, and we finally found out by Friday. That's also the day we got our new living room furniture.

And speaking of Friday... (insert frazzled emoticon) y'all are MORE than welcome to visit me! Any time after, say, 2PM. Really. But make sure to let me know you're coming. Otherwise, I... (delete long, nonsensical paragraph detailing my social ineptitude and anxiety and briefly hinting at my children's behavior)... Just call first. Please.

Oh yeah, so I had a real, genuine visitor on Friday. Thankfully, my house was exceedingly trashed because we hadn't returned stuff to the newly filled living room yet, so she might've thought the laundry and toilet paper and rocking horse were in the middle of the kitchen because of the furniture delivery, rather than simply everyday chaos. (snort) Once I showed her our lovely half door and scary Jetsons light in the bathroom, the kitchen mess was more easily ignored. God is so good to take care of those little details. I'll leave you to imagine that conversation.

And speaking of details... I'm so excited to be planning for the new year! I've got a to-do list approximately 34" long, and now I can start plugging it into my new calendar. Whippee! Last January, I tore apart the living room for remodeling. That was so we could sell the house and get a new living room. As you might guess from what you just read, I didn't get the new living room put back together until this past Friday. Suffice it to say this was a challenging year. No wonder my eyelid keeps twitching.

And speaking of challenging... Loren trained nearly 50 employees this week. His store opens on Tuesday. I'm so excited for him! I think he's a little too overwhelmed to be excited right now. But things are going very well, and they're going to have a great opening! I should get an update from him when I see him next... probably sometime in February.

So much more to share, but not today. Today tenemos una fiesta mexicana y escuchamos Sonora Santanera y juego con los niños. Fun.

Saturday, December 23


Ever feel like there are so many rules in life that you can't take a step without breaking one?

Thursday, December 21

Another week of progress

We closed on the house last week, and have been very busy getting really settled in since then. We were blessed to meet the son of the woman who lived here, who told us all about the house and property, including the locations of many of her wonderful gardens.

Over the past couple of weeks, we've learned of several people who have keys to our house for various reasons. So far, we've had a visit from some neighbors who dropped off one set, and retrieved another set from the guys at the gas station. I'm thinking of having a key-returning party to let the whole town get to know us... we could just leave a basket by the door and they could drop off their keys on their way in. Wouldn't that be a hoot! I'm trying hard to overcome my social quirks and make sure we don't get a reputation here as cold, antisocial outsiders. It's a challenge, but I suspect it will be well worth the effort.

Lynae taped up some paint chips, and they will be gradually be eliminated as I decide the colors are just plain wrong. Hopefully we will end up with one clear winner in the next week or so.

Tonight Toby pulled up a piece of old linoleum so we could set a brand new utility sink (Arby's reject) in the back corner to await a remodel of the back room. We found part of a newspaper from 1966, which I'm sure will be fun to read.

Loren and I went out for our anniversary on Tuesday. We enjoyed a nice dinner, compliments of a thoughtful and dear internet friend. Then we did some grocery, Christmas, and furniture shopping. I think we'll end up getting a sofa and a recliner soon. That's a huge deal, since we're down to the stinky chair (which we plan to re-upholster), the squeaky chair (hasn't had its weekly WD-40), and a 12yo wicker chair in the living room. The old loveseat ended up in the dump before we moved. It was time... the bottom had snapped in half several months earlier. Eek!

Loren has been warned: if you give a mom a recliner, she'll want a laptop to go with it. Especially with our wireless internet. LOL Naah, really, I think I can wait on the laptop until it's time to replace my computer anyway, which hopefully won't be too soon. It's quite a ways down the priority list.

Tonight I figured out an arrangement for a kids' playroom. Now that's exciting! I'm hoping to surprise the littles with it sometime after Christmas.

Thursday, December 14

A colorful post

Please pray for us as we close on the house Thursday at ~1PM Central. Huge deal!

I got my first batch of paint chips tonight. That back room is goin' DOWN, baby! I'm all for green rooms (did you see pics of my old bedroom?), but those poor walls need a bit of help.

Since we'll be in that room a lot, I figure it deserves to be at the top of the list. The upstairs bedroom might be close behind, we'll see. Here it is with its bold linoleum. The flash prevents you from appreciating the wall color, but you can imagine it in its electric blue glory, maybe.

Speaking of linoleum, here's the lovely flooring found in our enclosed porch. I think it's actually in good condition, and I may be able to come up with a cheery fix for the room with that linoleum in mind.

And speaking of cheery, remember the foyer?

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas around here. We have another tree in the living room, a wonderful balsam wreath on the door (where it won't get rained on, yippee!!) and the cutest gingerbread house on our dining room table! Now we just need another snowfall, since we got a bit of Kentucky-like weather and all our snow melted.

In non-house news, Loren's restaurant is coming together nicely. The remodeling is nearly finished, and he's got all new kitchen equipment. It looks great in there! He's hired about half of the employees he needs, so you can be praying the other half will show up soon. The restaurant opens on January 2nd. Needless to say, Loren's life is full of drama right now! And he's handling it very well, I might add. It's clear that God has been walking right beside him through the ups and downs of this whole journey.

It is also clear that it's way past my bedtime. And so this post shall now come to an abrupt end. G'nite!

Tuesday, December 12

I miss our ducks

Before we moved, we took our birds to live on the Carter farm. The ducks were so happy that day! They found a little stream and, well... see for yourself.

Wednesday, December 6

Top Ten House Discoveries Not Found On

(These are merely things I found quirky and interesting. They are not meant to be complaints.)

10. Washing machine manufactured the year I was born (anyone remember "Save Suds"?)

9. Scary Jetsons rocket-light in the bathroom

8. Vibrant green and yellow linoleum in front room/enclosed porch

7. Large floral patterned linoleum on brick red background in upstairs bedroom with pale electric blue walls

6. Stairwell too small for queen box spring

5. Magnetic cabinet latches that rarely latch

4. That old country kitchen smell

3. The top half of a door (it actually goes to the basement)

2. Water that turns brown when heated

1. Most of the siding is not actually white

Writing home

Dear Ma and Pa,

After days on the road, we have arrived at our new farm. The land here is much different from back home. Trees here are mostly pine, birch, and poplar instead of oak, and there are no magnolias up here. Manly says this place will be perfect for raising crops and livestock. We are grateful for our large collection of warm quilts, as the nights here are very cold. The children are looking forward to a white Christmas, and have had a great time sledding and playing with the dogs in the snow. I am hoping we can get to the land office soon and get the deed to this property.

The neighbors here seem friendly enough. I can tell people are a little wary of us until they hear that I grew up nearby. The local store clerk has not smiled yet in all the times I've been there. But she recently suffered a great loss, and my heart goes out to her.

I hope you are well. We will miss you at Christmas this year. I think of you all each time I look at the handmade snowflakes on our Christmas tree. They remind me of many Christmases spent just over the river and through the woods from here.

With much love,
Your daughter

Thursday, November 23

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here are some click-to-enlarge pictures of my dear blessings:

Sunday, November 19

Just curious

What does the following mean to you?

We purpose, therefore, by the aid of the Holy Spirit... to strive for the advancement of this church in knowledge, holiness, and comfort...

Friday, November 17

It's a great house!

Loren said the inspection went very well, and most of the modifications the inspector recommended, Loren thinks he could do himself. (That's saying something.) We're still gathering paperwork for the financing, but I suspect that will work out just fine.

So today I will be packing the garland I bought for the pillars,

the wreath for the front door, the welcome sign for the back door, and the little pre-lit tree for the foyer.

We're starting to get excited now!

Wednesday, November 15

I'm sharing pictures, you know what that means!

Our offer was accepted! This may be home by December, though I'm hoping for a lot more white at that time. Loren and the inspector will do their thing on Friday morning. If all goes well and the financing works out as we expect, we'll be well on our way!

Ok, so here's what's to like about this place: over 3000 sq ft, 5 bedrooms, 2 baths, a basement and an attic, original woodwork, new windows, two leaded windows, new roof, 3 types of heat (wood, oil, and electric), fruit trees, lilacs, 3 car garage and another outbuilding, all on 8+ acres.

Thursday, November 9

Tiny bubbles...

And big ones, too! I took the plunge and made soap. Twice. The first batch was a recipe I made up, wondering if I was looking at the right numbers in the right way, and having no idea what to expect. I scented it with Sage & Lemongrass fragrance oil, and if the ball I made from trimmings is any indication, it's delightful!

Sage & lemongrass, fresh from the molds

The second batch was even more experimental. First of all, I created a recipe based on my leftover oils, hoping not to have to move them to Minnesota as oils. Once those were used up, I added enough palm oil to make this batch the size I wanted. As a result, I think I may have used a bit too much palm oil. I'll have to wait and see how that turns out. Then, I experimented with color. That was... interesting. And finally, I divided the batch and used two different fragrance oils. The half I mixed was with Green Garden FO, and Lynae mixed her half with Jasmine Dreams FO. I still go back and forth as to which scent I prefer. I probably won't know for sure until they've cured for a few weeks. Meanwhile, I have closet shelves full of soap, and my bedroom smells wonderful!

As you might guess from the picture, I'm still trying to get the hang of cutting and trimming these, as well. Right now I've got large rectangle bars, some almost cube-shaped bars, oval bars, little guest-sized rectangles, and several balls. Not one of them is perfect. I'm trying to be ok with that for now.

Northward bound update

I don't have the date yet, but we should close on the sale of our home in the next week or so.

We're mostly packed now. I could get the rest done in a long day if I had to. Or if Lynae helped me, a reasonable day. Somehow Toby just doesn't "get" practical packing guidelines. I hope his things make the trip intact. But he's working hard at other big projects for me, so it all works out.

Today it got up to 79º here, and Lynae doesn't have any short-sleeved shirts unpacked. She's a trooper, though, and I haven't heard her complain.

We're putting in an offer on a house about 10 minutes from the school I used to attend. It's right across the road from an active railroad track. It's at the edge of town (pop. 102). There's a bit of water in the basement. The cell reception in that area is poor. And I might not be able to get DSL. But all that aside, it is by far the nicest house we'll look at. It was built in 1920 and lovingly cared for. If our offer is accepted, I'll share pictures. If not, we'll rent through the winter and see what 2007 has in store for us.

You're right. Those things I mentioned about the house are very minor. And that's all the "cons" I could think of. If I were to go on about what's right about the place, you'd be reading here much longer. And I'd get all excited. So, in an effort to remain relatively sane, the "pros" will wait until such time as an offer is accepted. :-)

Saturday, October 28

A mental picture

Ok, so like I was getting all distracted from packing and stuff and wanted to make soap in a really big way and like I couldn't get my mind off it even though I was scared I would mess it up and was kind of relieved to find out that I didn't actually have all the stuff I needed so I packed some more and then we went to the store the next day and got the stuff but when we got out of the store the truck wouldn't start and it was really late so then everything was closed except Walmart (duh!) so we'd have to spend the night somewhere but I like didn't have my inhaler with me and I really neeeeeded my inhaler so we didn't get a hotel room 'cuz that might make it worse so we just slept in the truck and it was all cool except the thunderstorm was freaky but we were ok. And then this morning we got the truck towed and Enterprise picked us up just like they said and we came home and saw the house was ok even though I had this totally weird vision of it being all messed up and stuff so then we slept for real and then they called and said the truck was fixed so we went and got it and came home and had supper and watched a movie and now I like don't want to make soap anymore but I got some packing done. So like I think the truck thing was a good distraction and I'll make the soap next time I need a distraction but I hope that's not soon 'cuz I really have to get a lot more packing done since we have so much STUFF but like we use it so I keep walking around looking at everything and wondering what I can do without for a whole 4-6 weeks and sometimes I think we need all of it and then sometimes I think we don't need any of it and why am I even packing all that STUFF anyway and then I remember that I have like this whole family and they like nice casseroles and warm clothes and bouncy balls and stuff like that so then I look at the pile of boxes and maybe pack another box or maybe wander through the house again and sometimes all my brain can think of is AAAAAAAAAAAGH! and then other times I think hey, I should make a list which is why I have like dozens of lists all over and then I need a list to help me remember where all my lists are and what they're for and stuff like that and then when I do one little thing I have to find all the lists it's on and cross that little thing off or it drives me crazy and stuff so I'm not making lists so much anymore but that's driving me crazy too I think.

That's why I don't drink soda with my supper, as a rule.

Monday, October 23

More Pictures

These pictures were taken in June, when we went tubing to celebrate the June birthdays (and Father's Day).

A rare picture of me!

Jon, Lynae, Toby

Lynae and Grace

Michael and Dad

Sunday, October 22

Catching up

Loren has made it safely "home". He starts work tomorrow, and I'm sure he'll be thrilled!

Speaking of thrilled, I've found a software replacement for Kodak NotSoEasyShare. I can use Picasa to get pictures off my camera. Here are a few that waited patiently on memory cards while I figured that out:

Toby teaching Grace to play Battleship

Michael's first fish, mounted and hand painted
by Toby for Michael's 6th birthday

Michael and Grace studying together

Going for a walk at Trail of Tears Park

Mummy wrapping Grace as we study Ancient Egypt

Jon mummy wrapping his pound puppy

Two beautiful people

The fam at Nashville's Centennial Park in early October

Monday, October 16

Winter cometh

I suppose that after a post like my previous one, a two-week absence might make it look like I've been licking my wounds. LOL Actually, I've been pretty busy.

I had a friend over last week, and she showed Lynae and me how to make soap. The house still smells like almond, and the kids started using the soap yesterday. It's a huge hit, and everyone is hoping we can make another batch on our own soon.

Last week also brought us the first two offers on our house. Both came on the same day, one by email and one by phone. Both couples had only seen the listing on the internet. We spent that day and night on an emotional rollercoaster, and promptly jumped off the following day when the better of the two offers fell through. As timing was awkward (the remaining offer was from overseas), we had to wait until this morning to find out if we had a signed contract. We did! So Loren and I signed the contract this morning. It looks like we'll be moving just after Thanksgiving, but the exact timing is in God's hands.

It also looks like Loren has found someone in Minnesota who will rent to him short-term until we move up with him. Woo-hoo!

So our next priority is getting Loren ready to leave later this week. Then he'll be scoping out houses and getting his restaurant team hired and trained, and I'll be packing. Ain't no turnin' back now!

Monday, October 2

I'd Like to Thank the Public School System

Your Social Anxiety Level: 60%

You have moderate social anxiety.
It's possible that you have a serious social anxiety problem.
But it's also likely that you can help yourself, by getting out more and trying new, scary activities.
No one's secretly judging you. So be yourself, and if you screw up, just laugh.
Are You Socially Anxious?

(Planting tongue firmly in cheek...) I'd like to thank the public school system for its role in my socialization skills. The guidance and supervision they provided when I was in school were priceless. And you get what you pay for.

Honestly, being picked up by the sides of my head on a regular basis may have been a wonderful show of S. B.'s strength, but did nothing to help me understand proper boundaries. Being stabbed in the knee with a pencil for asking a boy why he was doing his homework on the way to school taught me not to ask questions. Having my hat and books kicked and tossed around on the bus and muddied and spat upon taught me not to feel safe in a crowd. Being insulted and rejected daily by "friends" taught me not to reach out or speak up, and to consider carefully who I call "friend." Being told repeatedly by my best friend that I look like a bug when I wear sunglasses made me very cautious about trusting my sense of style. Trying and failing in front of my peers and being mercilessly ridiculed year after year taught me that sometimes it really is better not to try.

Thanks to the socialization I received in public school, I know now that being smart can be a curse. (I have since given it up.) And being short is a horrible thing. I still feel self-conscious around tall people, and breathe a sigh of relief when I'm around someone shorter than I am. I even secretly (until announcing it on the www) worry that my own children will treat me differently when they are taller than me.

I know now that no one is secretly judging me. Their judgment has never been a secret.

You ask of my homeschooled children, "What about socialization?" Yes, I wonder, too. How different will their lives be for not having learned those lessons in public school? How will their lives be affected by interacting so often with adults who discuss relevant topics or conduct transactions without insulting or tormenting them? How will they understand life if they spend time with other children, most of whom are also denied daily age-segregated socialization? And what does it say of their character if they respond to the occasional bully either by being kind in return or walking away? How will they form relationships with people who are different from them if they don't see prejudice every day? How will they stand up for what's right if they don't spend their days surrounded and bombarded by what's wrong?

Gosh. I don't know. But somehow I think they'll be very well adjusted compared to their mother.

Thursday, September 21

The State of Education

Quite often, when my husband is interviewing a high school student for a position in his restaurant, he will ask about school. A recent conversation went like this:

"What's your favorite subject in school?"
"I like History."
"Great! What period are you studying?"
"No, I mean what period in history?"
"The Civil War."
"So I guess you're learning about the President during that time. Do you know who that was?"
"We haven't got that far."

Just a few weeks later, he interviewed a young man:

"So what's your least favorite subject in school?"
"Sure... but I bet you know quite a bit about history."
"Oh, yeah."
"Like the President during the Civil War. Who was that?"
"I don't know that one."
"How about the first President of the U.S.?"
"No, I don't know that one either."
"George Washington."
"Oh yeah, that sounds about right."

Now granted, one can make sandwiches without knowing the names of previous rulers of one's country. But this is "Kentucky, where education pays!" Makes ya wonder.

Seriously, as an educator, I feel compelled to give these students the benefit of the doubt. Surely they are learning something. It just isn't what he asked them about. I wonder what it is.

Wednesday, September 20

It's Treacherous Under the Oaks

One night last month, we lost a tree in a storm. It landed on our power line and took out our whole meter assembly. The tree hovered precariously over our garage. I believe it was held up by a limb... or more likely, angels. The next morning, the tree fell the rest of the way. Rather than crashing through our garage roof, it slid off the back. The only damage to the garage is on the outside of the three corner panels.

A few days ago, we had another storm. We lost a large oak halfway up the driveway. It took down a second tree completely. The limbs shaved off about half of a third, small tree across the driveway. And a fourth tree, another oak, is arched to the ground, pinned under the huge tree that fell. I will be interested to see if it springs back up when cleanup commences. I hope it does, and safely.

I had just turned my concerns from the tree situation when the water meter readers paid me a visit. They noticed a jump in our usage. I had no explanation for that, but knew it meant a whole lot more stress and likely a whole lot more money flowing from our bank account. After testing inside the house and finding no leaks, I sent Toby to investigate under the house. We had a river flowing up from the dirt under the house, and a pond in the yard several feet away. (sigh)

We've had a VERY hard time getting repair people to come out in a timely manner. Now I'm trying to get a plumber who's willing to work under our trailer AND someone to remove trees.

Have I mentioned lately that Loren will be moving to the Duluth/Cloquet area in mid-October? At this point, I don't know how. It'll have to be orchestrated by God. Homeowner's insurance is great, but there is that deductible.

In other news, my jaw is out of whack. My bite is messed up. The up side to this is that I cannot clench my teeth as I usually do when I'm working under stress. The down side is that it's very difficult to eat. I suppose some of my readership might be wondering if that's truly a down side, considering.

I should probably get that checked out, but can't imagine finding the time to do it this week. And anyway, sometimes it provides a distraction from the rest of the devastation.

I can't wait to see how God works all this stuff out!

Tuesday, September 5

Ten on Tuesday

Inspired by Nancy...

Ten Favorite Characters From Your Childhood
  1. Grover
  2. Ernie
  3. Laura Ingalls
  4. Mary Jemison
  5. Goat Peter
  6. Heidi's grandfather
  7. Dickon
  8. Mary Lennox
  9. Marty Davis
  10. Matthew Kneeland (not fictional, but definitely one of my favorite characters)
Can you tell I spent many years without a TV?

Monday, September 4

Downer post with a silver lining

I'm deeply saddened by the news of Steve Irwin's death. He will be sorely missed.

I'm disturbed, but not surprised, by the position of Focus On the Family in Carmon's pro-choice post. James Dobson's psychological worldview is showing. Again.

I find it very interesting that the obesity pandemic "is not about gluttony." Gee, I think my self-esteem just increased.

Wednesday, August 16

Volunteering for HeyJulieBaby's thingy

1. Grab the book nearest to you, turn to page 18, and find line 4. "I am one of those other homeschool moms. My desire is not to overwhelm you with another curriculum" (The Mystery of History, Vol. 1 by Linda Lacour Hobar)
2. Stretch your left arm out as far as you can. What can you touch? The library book truck that holds all our school books and supplies for this semester
3. What is the last thing you watched on TV? Bonus features from the Paper Clips documentary
4. Without looking, guess what time it is. 10:25
5. Now look at the clock. What is the actual time? 9:51
6. With the exception of the computer, what can you hear? The fan in the kitchen, Lynae turning the pages of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson
7. When did you last step outside? What were you doing? A couple of hours ago, I called Lynae in to help me make supper
8. Before you started this survey, what did you look at? HeyJulieBaby's blog, 'cuz I needed a dose of fun
9. What are you wearing? Pale green tee, black bike shorts, and sneakers - ooh yeah, I'm stylin'!
10. Did you dream last night? Heck yes I did. I dreamed that little baby Maggie was all grown up into this super amazing woman. Like a cross between her mother and my friend Jess.
11. When did you last laugh? Probably this afternoon when Toby said something goofy.
12. What is on the walls of the room you are in? Haunting wallpaper
13. Seen anything weird lately? A video for the song "We Like the Moon"
15. What is the last film you saw? Door to Door
16. If you became a multi-millionaire overnight, what would you buy? A house and furniture without holes ripped in it and a new car for hubby
17. Tell me something about you that I don't know. Two of my back molars never grew in
18. If you could change one thing about the world, regardless of guilt or politics, what would you do? return it to pre-flood conditions (boy, wouldn't that end a lot of debates!)
19. Do you like to dance? LOL
20. George W Bush: signing away our future
21. Imagine your first child is a girl, what do you call her? two years early
22. Imagine your first child is a boy, what do you call him? Toby
23. Would you ever consider living abroad? How long? more than 2 weeks? Yes, I'd do it for good under the right circumstances
24. What do you want God to say to you when you reach the pearly gate? "Yes."
25. Four or Five people who must also do this quiz on their blog: I'm sticking with Julie's answer - I don't want to tag anyone. Do I have any volunteers?

Hey y'all, did you SEE??

My MOM left me a comment! That was my MOM! She was here and she WROTE to me! :-)

Thanks, Mom!!

Tuesday, August 15

What have I learned?

It was five years ago today that the phone rang, and my answering of it changed our lives forever. I was asked if we would be able to provide a home for two little boys. I went all numb and tingly, and my mind was racing... can we do this? Are we ready? What are we in for? Will I be able to love someone else's children? I said yes. And then I found out... yes, no, more than we could ever imagine (both wonderful and horrible), and YES.

Top five things I've learned by parenting our adoptees for the past five years:
  1. It's not personal. My children act out of their past hurts and perceptions. When they do so, my parenting of them is rarely the real issue.

  2. Time may heal all wounds, but some wounds may take a lifetime (or longer) to heal.

  3. "Virtually indestructable" means that my boys can destroy it, much to the amazement of parents with average children.

  4. It can be very difficult to separate the quality of my parenting from the results I see in my children. I know this should not be so, and I am working on changing this belief, but I mostly still believe that "good" parents have "good" kids.

  5. I absolutely cannot do this job without the wisdom and grace my Lord Jesus provides! (Every time I try, I fall flat on my face... and usually take someone down with me.)
Top five "worth it" experiences with them:
  1. Walking into the courthouse with three different last names, and walking out as seven Armstrongs.

  2. Every time Michael, who used to scream when touched, and later would still tense up and panic when hugged, asks me for a hug and gives me a kiss to go with it.

  3. When Lynae put away the boys' laundry one night and decided to straighten up their drawers. I heard her sigh and say, "I just love those boys so much!"

  4. A couple days ago, I told Jon it was time for his (necessarily toned down) birthday celebration, and that he should put on a smile and be thankful for all the nice cards and gifts. He actually did so! He had a wonderful time, I got great pictures to remember it by, and I believe his joy and gratitude were genuine.

  5. Seeing Gracie act like a totally "normal" kid with normal kid problems.

Saturday, August 12

On to something more uplifting

This morning I found out that I'm not the only one who cannot use Explode the Code due to a strong aversion to the illustration style! I have heard many trustworthy homeschoolers say that it's a wonderful curriculum, and I believe them. I just can't bring myself to use it, for that one reason.

Thank God for choices in homeschool curricula!

Short and not-so-sweet

Sometimes you're the windshield; sometimes you're the bug.

This evening I was clearly the bug.



Sunday, July 30

Still here, treading water

Well! July has come and nearly gone without so much as a single blog post until today. Ever have one of those seasons so full of drama that you can't even bring yourself to share it? That's where I'm at.

As the home-selling drags on with no start date for hubby's new job, a move up north hardly seems real right now. Are we in God's will and supposed to just patiently trust? I can do that. Did we make things happen in spite of His will and end up on a dead end? I'm willing to turn around. The hardest part is not knowing which it is. And so, I've asked for a sign. It doesn't have to be something huge and amazing, though I'd certainly accept that from God. I just want to hear the creak of a door or the sliding of a window.

In the meantime, I need to find a polite, pat answer for all the people who continually ask if we've had any offers on the house. Obviously, if we've had an acceptable offer, I will be shouting it from the rooftop! But how to say that? Simply saying "no" tends to invite advice or discussion, and I'm not really up to it most of the time. If you have some clever idea, please share!

The Fair

A few weeks ago, we entered several items in the Western Kentucky State Fair. I think we did very well for our first year! I did not get pictures of Toby's bread (2nd place) or Lynae's biscuits (3rd place). I was very proud of both of them, since neither has made what they entered very often. And I consider this to be the heart of biscuit country, too!

Nor did I take a picture of Toby's chickens, a couple of tired old hens who looked as though they'd rather be anywhere but at the fair. One of them placed 3rd, and the other was Grand Champion! (That tells you a lot about our fair.)

Lynae worked very hard on a cross stitch project, but due to a couple of setbacks, wasn't able to complete it in time for the fair. She's looking forward to next year!

Toby and I each placed 2nd behind friends of ours. I was surprised at the comments my friend made regarding my entries, but tried hard to be polite. I hope Toby and his friend didn't have any similarly awkward moments between them.

Here are pictures of our other entries which placed:

A duck Toby carved and painted for my birthday gift - 2" long, 5/8" high (2nd place)

A necklace Lynae made for 4-H (blue ribbon)

A belt Toby made, which will go to the state fair in August

Baby blue jay (2nd place)

Neighbor's horses - I didn't think this would place! (1st place)

This man has a story to tell (1st place)

They didn't even know how rare this boy's smile is! (1st place)

Life's a dance...

Tango: Just over two weeks ago, I told hubby that what I really wanted was for him to tell me that he would take my to-do list and work on the (relatively) small projects on one of his two days off each week, and that I should focus on keeping the house showable and working on school with the kids. He said he would work on my to-do list, and that he'd like me to keep the house showable and work on school with the kids. Well dontcha know, I spent that weekend unpacking school books and setting up an assignment sheet, and we dug in the following Monday!

Breakdancing: It's been going very well. Ok, there was that time someone decided to take 12 hours on a simple assignment and didn't finish his work until 5:30 am, but having chosen to fight that battle with him, hubby and I had to win it, and by the grace of God, we did, and everyone survived. And there have been other, smaller battles engaged with that same someone, leading me to wring my hands and scratch my head, yes. But five years of parenting him has taught me that he likes keeping me a little off-balance, and sometimes the best response is to return the favor. I think I'm getting the hang of this exhausting dance. I do fall flat on my butt sometimes, and we both hate that part. But he and I are equally determined (stubborn) and between us and God, I think we'll be all right, though "all right" might not look anything like what I have in mind.

Electric Slide: Yes, it's been going very well. The big kids are working independently, and we're all pleased with the curriculum we've chosen. I've begun holding "meetings" with them... one-on-one time to go over their work, help them with anything they don't understand (they're always welcome to come to me with questions, but sometimes it's a concept rather than a specific problem, and they don't bring it to me right away), and talk about any changes we need to make.

Chicken Dance: My little guy is thrilled to have school work to do! Sometimes he shakes with excitement when we do workbook pages together. He wants to read so much he can taste it.

Bunny Hop: Baby girl likes being involved, too, but at 4yo I'm not putting much effort into that. I tend to keep her occupied with toys, books, puzzles, and other stuff she can do on her own until the big kids are done with their work and can teach her letters, numbers, etc. That's as good for them as it is for her.

Hopefully, school will continue to go well until we get a closing date and turn our attention to packing and moving... or until the end of the school year, whichever comes first.

Saturday, June 24

Sailing Through the Blogosphere

Recently, I've branched out and begun exploring the favorite blogs of some of my favorite bloggers. I can see, now, that this could become an addiction. There is one blog, which for now shall remain nameless (though you can find its link on this very page), that has been open on my browser, in some form or another, nearly the entire time my computer has been on for the past week.

One thing I've noticed is that all tracks eventually lead to SpunkyHomeSchool. Not one to easily join any crowd, I wasn't even tempted to check out Spunky's blog. But this morning I decided to trust the collective opinion of those whose opinions I continually read and appreciate, and I clicked over to see what Spunky had to say. I wasn't immediately hooked, but kept browsing until I hit upon a gem. As brain-tied as I am, I always appreciate it when others express my opinions or beliefs more logically or eloquently or convincingly than I could myself. That said, read what Spunky has to say about youth groups. As far as I'm concerned, she's right on!

I've also noticed that I'm woefully deficient in my exposure to classic literature. The irony of being convinced of this through the reading of blog after blog is not lost on me. Thankfully, I recently brought my children a huge stack of classics from the library, so as soon as I turn off the computer, I can dive right in!

Ok, realistically, I probably won't begin reading until I've finished editing a book for a friend, applying for my children's social security cards, updating another website (or two), and reading dozens more blog entries. But it's on my radar, and the books are in my house, and that's a start, at least.

Tuesday, June 20

June Pearl of Wisdom

Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it.

I found this little gem of a verse yesterday as I read Psalm 34 on another blog.

It seems the family is currently in a little behavior cycle in which this verse serves as a timely reminder as often as we can remember to say it. I don't doubt that before long, we will all have it memorized and, it being God's Word, I am certain we will begin to see less evil and more peace... soon.

Tuesday, June 13

Thank God I paid attention!

For the past several days, it seems that everyone I talked to (and it seems I've talked to everyone) asked if we'd sold our house yet. Over and over, I admitted that we hadn't actually shown the house since the end of April. 6.5 weeks ago, to be exact. That would be depressing, but for this: we've been very busy with other obligations, and haven't been prepared to show the house for quite some time.

Yesterday morning, with my teenager (gulp) on a 4-H trip and my husband at work, darling daughter and I put our heads together for a special girls-only planning session. We decided what we could reasonably accomplish in a day's time, and came up with a pretty long list. I said to her, "I have a feeling the realtor will call today and ask to show the house. And we're SO not ready for that!"

We worked, gave each other back rubs, and worked some more. The littles helped wherever they could. We didn't get the dogs bathed and groomed, but we covered nearly everything else on our list. That felt pretty good.

And then, midafternoon, the phone rang.

We had just over two hours to get the house totally spuff (Armstrong past-tense of "spiff") and be out of here. OH -- guess that feeling was the Holy Spirit. Woo-hoo! So we skipped afternoon naps and kicked it into high gear. This place looked as spiffy as it could look. And supper was in the crockpot; we were good to go.

We didn't go far... we sat in a neighbor's driveway until they turned into our driveway so we'd know what time they arrived. Then we did a couple of errands down the road and waited for them to leave. After 45 minutes, they left and we were able to come home.

Supper sure did smell good when we walked in the door. Loren got home a little after we did, and he called the realtor to see how the showing had gone. The realtor seems hopeful... said it went well, and that supper smelled great. LOL

So... we'll see what comes of it. Maybe we'll get an offer. Either way, I'm glad I paid attention yesterday morning.

Toby is supposed to come home tonight. I'm so excited! I can handle loosening apron strings, no problem. But it was a bit much to say goodbye to him the morning of his 13th birthday so he could judge livestock on the other side of the state. It'll be great to have him back.

Tuesday, June 6

Holding out just a little longer

It's been a month since I started itching to unpack all the school books. The kids are looking forward to it as well. So I finally made a list of what we need to get done before we can unpack the books. Hopefully we can finish the painting and spiffing and repairing and packing on the list by the end of June. It doesn't change anything... we'd have had to finish those things before starting anyway, and we'd have started in July most years anyway... but I think it'll keep me focused. I love lists.

Saturday, May 27

Spring Banquet

We had our PACHEK Spring Banquet on Thursday evening. It was more wonderful than I could've imagined. We entered to find the room full of balloons, and the tables... oh! The tables! Each table was covered with paper, on which we found questions, quotes, and discussion starters. There were books for answering various questions, crayons, rulers, pencils & erasers, Skittles, and M&Ms. The kids had lots of fun with all that, and so did the grown ups!

Families displayed some of their children's schoolwork from the past year. We saw a huge bug collection, a castle model, a Civil War display, marshmallow sculptures, paintings, and several other neat projects. There was a potluck dinner with more than enough food to go around... and around.

As we finished eating, some of the children gave musical or other presentations. We certainly have talented young people in our homeschool group! This was followed by each family leader introducing his (or her) family and recognizing special achievements.

The last presentation was very special to me. Two of the other PACHEK leaders presented me with a thank-you gift -- a poster of Kentucky memorabilia to remember them by. I plan to have it signed before I move!

The evening was a beautiful celebration of homeschooling. I hope it becomes a PACHEK tradition!

Here is video of Toby and Lynae's presentation:

Sunday, May 14

The Lanyard

by Billy Collins

The other day as I was ricocheting slowly
off the blue walls of this room
bouncing from typewriter to piano
from bookshelf to an envelope lying on the floor,
I found myself in the "L" section of the dictionary
where my eyes fell upon the word, Lanyard.
No cookie nibbled by a French novelist
could send one more suddenly into the past.
A past where I sat at a workbench
at a camp by a deep Adirondack lake
learning how to braid thin plastic strips into a lanyard.
A gift for my mother.
I had never seen anyone use a lanyard.
Or wear one, if that's what you did with them.
But that did not keep me from crossing strand over strand
again and again until I had made a boxy, red and white lanyard for my mother.
She gave me life and milk from her breasts,
and I gave her a lanyard
She nursed me in many a sick room,
lifted teaspoons of medicine to my lips,
set cold facecloths on my forehead
then led me out into the airy light and taught me to walk and swim
and I in turn presented her with a lanyard.
"Here are thousands of meals" she said,
"and here is clothing and a good education."
"And here is your lanyard," I replied,
"which I made with a little help from a counselor."
"Here is a breathing body and a beating heart,
strong legs, bones and teeth and two clear eyes to read the world." she whispered.
"And here," I said, "is the lanyard I made at camp."
"And here," I wish to say to her now,
"is a smaller gift. Not the archaic truth,
that you can never repay your mother,
but the rueful admission that when she took the two-toned lanyard from my hands,
I was as sure as a boy could be
that this useless worthless thing I wove out of boredom
would be enough to make us even."

Wednesday, May 10

Let's try this again!

This is my last night with a 3 year old. Tomorrow my baby turns four. I remember the last time "my baby" turned four. Life was very good. Good like a walk in the shade on a nice warm day with honeysuckle on a gentle breeze.

I hardly knew how to handle that.

Let's pray I handle it better this time!!

Monday, May 8

Spring camping

Young fisherpeople:
The Great Flaming Marshmallow:
Totally wiped out Manoah in a bed of poison ivy:
We're raising another goof, it seems:
Sweet India, also zonked after a 3.5 mile hike:

Spring camping too

Loren's first fish:
Toby's fish:
Singing hymns around the campfire:

Loren & Gracie hangin' out after lunch:

Sunday, May 7

It's panic time again... perfectly normal

I miss school. I want to sit the kids at the table for several hours a day and see them working diligently from textbooks, filling workbooks, and creating meaningful artwork. I want a big fat grade book full of wonderful grades, a calendar marking our progress, and lists full of checkmarks to let me know we've done everything we're supposed to do.

I told this to Toby and Lynae. They chuckled. They scrunched up their faces. They can't imagine where I'd get such silly notions. I'm sure they will be much better homeschooling parents than I.

I need to regain my focus and be content with my children's actual education in this weird season of our life. Michael can copy Loren's handwriting while reading it upside down from across the table. He says he wants to be a writer like John Boy Walton. Jon, in his own drawn out Jon way, can read two passages of scripture and write a comparison.* Lynae understands what it takes to clean the house to show it, shows admirable initiative, handles laundry for a family of seven, helps me cook creative and nutritious meals, blogs, and connects the dots regarding various historical figures from books she's read and songs we know. Toby can keep the yard, garage, and vehicles maintained, take care of the animals, do all sorts of home repairs, and I'm about to teach him how to do interior painting... well. Learning attention to detail is more important than algebra right now. Although, wonder of wonders, he told me this morning that he misses math!

He also wrote me a book report today, after reading (for fun) a book on hunting. In it, he wrote, "That is why Robin Hood was an outlaw, because he hunted with his illegal but nonetheless merry men." I must count my blessings, having a son who enjoys reading and writing and has such a great sense of humor!

Here's what else he's done this weekend:

*(sigh) Jon has reached that (predictable) point in his work -- about 85% completed -- when he erases all he's done and makes up silly interpretations of what the assignment really was, pretending not to remember what he should be doing. And it doesn't matter what it is... copying a sentence, writing his name, writing numbers, drawing a circle... he always reaches this point.

Excedrin is my friend.